R: Thomas H. Ince. D: Mary Pickford, Owen Moore, Charles Arling. P: Independent Moving Pictures Co. of America (IMP). USA 1911
“Mary Pickford (1892-1979) was a multifaceted pioneer of early cinema. She was a talented performer, a creative producer and a savvy businesswoman who helped shape the film industry as we know it today.
Mary Pickford rose steadily to fame at a time when there was no path to follow. Actresses who came after her, such as Joan Crawford and Jean Harlow, cut pictures from fan magazines, pinned them to their walls and dreamed of stardom. Mary was known as ‘the girl with the curls’ and ‘the Biograph girl’ before audiences learned her name; fan magazines were created because of stars like Mary Pickford. In fact, the very first issue of Photoplay in 1912 featured Mary dressed in character for Little Red Riding Hood. Her first film director was D.W. Griffith and she went on to work with most of the greats of her era such as Cecil B. De Mille, Allan Dwan, James Kirkwood, Marshall Neilan, Sidney Franklin, Maurice Tourneur and Ernst Lubitsch. Her career was buoyed by fellow professionals who were also friends, including the cinematographer Charles Rosher and the screenwriter Frances Marion, at a time when the art form was in a near constant state of change.
Between 1912 and 1919, Mary Pickford jumped between a variety of studios, increasing her paychecks astronomically each time until she risked it all by joining with Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith and Charlie Chaplin to form United Artists. The reaction from studio bosses is summed up by the oft repeated line, ‘The inmates have taken over the asylum’ and it was not a smooth road, but they found the success that was most important to them because they totally controlled their own product. Mary would risk her career again the following year when she made the decision that instead of being ‘America’s sweetheart, I want to be one man’s sweetheart’. At a time when stars were told they could not be divorced and still be big box office, Mary divorced Owen Moore and married Doug Fairbanks in 1920. But instead of being a pariah, her popularity, and that of her new husband, soared as their union was greeted as a storybook marriage and they were hailed as Hollywood royalty. They would reign from their Beverly Hills home, dubbed Pickfair, until she filed for divorce in 1933.”
Mary Pickford Foundation